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Spring Roster Review – Offense

April 18th

Well, what are you going to do?

We should be preparing for the Spring Game, scheduled for Saturday, April 25th, but the Spring Game, and all of CU’s spring practices, have been postponed indefinitely.

But that doesn’t mean that the Buffs aren’t out there.

They are practicing and doing weight training remotely, with some eight hours of contact per week allowed with the coaching staff.

Outside linebacker Carson Wells, for example, has been staying in shape by working on the family farm in Florida.

“He’s farm strength strong, so he’ll be fine,” CU strength and conditioning coordinator Drew Wilson told the Daily Camera.

For Buff fans … we are left to ponder how the spring would have played out? Who would emerge as the favorite for the starting quarterback position? Who will be the starting cornerbacks?

The players are still on the team, and here is a look at the CU roster, which should be pretty much the same group who will (eventually) suit up for the 2020 (2021?) season …

Players in bold = Returning starter … Italicized players = Walk-ons … EE = Early Enrollee; would have been available for spring practices … TR = Transfer

Quarterbacks …

  • Senior … Sam Noyer
  • Junior … Tyler Lytle
  • Sophomore … Matt Ryan 
  • Redshirt Freshman … Grant Ciccarone
  • Incoming Freshman … Brendon Lewis (EE)

Thoughts … With three year starter Steven Montez off to try his luck in the pro ranks, the first spring under Karl Dorrell would have been remembered as the spring where the battle for starting quarterback was the primary story. Incoming freshman Brendon Lewis would have been fighting off the presumptive favorite in junior Tyler Lytle, but that battle will have to be waged another day. The return of Sam Noyer, who announced shortly after Mel Tucker departed that he was entering the Transfer Portal, only to return to the fold, provides added competition at best, a reliable emergency option at worst.

Running Backs …

  • Seniors … None
  • Junior … Alex Fontenot 
  • Sophomores … Jaren Mangham … Deion Smith … Jarek Broussard … Joe Davis
  • Redshirt Freshmen … None
  • Incoming Freshmen … Ashaad Clayton; Jayle Stacks

Thoughts … With a new starter at quarterback and a strong offensive line returning (not to mention the new emphasis on the tight end position), this could be a banner year for the running backs at CU. Fortunately, there is plenty of talent returning, with the top two backs from 2019, Alex Fontenot (874 yards on 185 carries; five touchdowns) and Jaren Mangham (441 yards on 107 carries; three touchodowns) returning. the addition of four-star recruit Ashaad Clayton will only add to the intrigue as to how the 2020 carries will be distributed.

Wide Receivers … 

  • Senior … K.D. Nixon 
  • Juniors … Maurice Bell … Jaylon Jackson … Daniel Arias … Curtis Chiaverini
  • Sophomores … Dimitri Stanley Clayton Baca … Jake Groth … Alex Smith … Nick Nazarian
  • Red-shirt Freshman … Vontae Shenault
  • Incoming Freshmen … Brenden Rice … Chris Carpenter … Montana Lemonious-Craig … Keith Miller … Justin Schafer

Thoughts … The decision by K.D. Nixon to return to the team after exploring his NFL Draft options gives some experience at the top of the wide receiver roster. After Nixon, who might be primed for a breakout season as CU’s featured receiver, will have plenty of competition for receptions. Dimitri Stanley and Vontae Shenault showed enough in limited action last fall to get Buff fans excited, with the additions of four – count ’em, four – quality freshmen coming in to ensure that Darrin Chiaverini’s wide receiver corps remains one of the deepest and most talented on the roster.

Tight Ends … 

  • Seniors … Matt Lynch (TR) … Nick Fisher (TR)
  • Juniors … Brady Russell … Jared Poplawski … Legend Brumbaugh 
  • Sophomores … Luke Stillwell … Jake Peters (TR) … C.J. Schmanski 
  • Redshirt Freshmen … None
  • Incoming Freshmen … Caleb Fauria … Louis Passarello

Thoughts … The loss of Jared Poplawski for the season to a torn ACL might have relegated the tight end position to another year of obscurity, but the return of Brady Russell, and the addition on five – yes, five! – new tight ends to the roster this fall would seemingly portend a greater role for the tight end position. Three transfers, along with the addition of two freshman (including CU legacy Caleb Fauria), bodes well for those who long for the days of Daniel Graham (or even Joe Klopfenstein). My only disappointment? With the addition of five scholarship tight ends, it makes it less likely that two walk-ons with made-for-football names: Legend Brumbaugh and C.J. Schmanski – will see the field of play.

Offensive Line … 

  • Seniors … Kary Kutsch
  • Juniors … William ShermanColby Pursell … Chance Lytle … Heston Paige
  • Sophomores … Frank Fillip … Casey Roddick … Kanan Ray … Josh Jynes … John Deitchman
  • Red-shirt Freshmen … Austin Johnson … Jake Wiley … Valentin Senn … Nikko Pohahau
  • Incoming Freshmen … Jake Wray (EE) … Carson Lee (EE) … Gerad Lichtenhan

Thoughts ... It may seem a bit odd, but the main question for the CU offensive line this spring wouldn’t have been, “Who will replace Arlington Hambright at left tackle?”, but, “Will there be a dropoff in the improvement along with the line with the loss of Chris Kapilovic?”. Kapilovic, who had spurned offers from Auburn and Missouri to stay at Colorado, left the Buffs for Michigan State when his head coach, Mel Tucker, did the same. The concern as to the loss of Kapilovic was only heightened when Karl Dorrell hired Mitch Rodrigue, most recently a high school coach, as Kapilovic’s replacement.

Assuming there is no dropoff in quality of coaching, then the CU offensive line should be a strength in 2020. Two players – right tackle Will Sherman and left guard Kary Kutsch – started all 12 games last fall, with another long time starter, Colby Pursell, also back. There is also quality replacements waiting in the wings, including Frank Fillip and Casey Roddick, who had two starts last fall.

Offense … Overall 

Head coach Karl Dorrell and his offensive coordinator, Darrin Chiaverini, have promised Buff fans a “multiple offense”. Karl Dorrell’s history suggests a strong rushing attack as a priority, while Darrin Chiaverini’s past would give rise to the belief that the Buffs will be throwing the ball a great deal.

Much of the development of the offense may hinge upon how well the quarterbacks develop. If true freshman Brendon Lewis gets the keys to the car, there may be more RPO’s in CU’s future. If junior Tyler Lytle gets the nod, however, you may see an offense where the quarterback is considered more of a game manager than a game changer.

In either case, the new quarterback will have a number of quality returners at the skill positions. CU’s offensive line should be decent at worst, and has a chance to be excellent at best.

It would have been fun to debate the above while pouring over scrimmage and spring game statistics, but those numbers, alas, are not going to be available this spring.

So, at least for the moment, your guess as to the quality of the CU roster on offense is as good as mine … or Karl Dorrell’s.



2 Replies to “Spring Roster Review – Offense”

  1. So I am watching the 2018 Nebraska game. One thing occurred to me and I wanted to check my memory. Chiaverini was co-OC wasn’t he? Clayton Adams was the run game coordinator. I remember watching our run game that entire year and thinking it sucked. Truly, truly sucked. I just watched the base run play get run 2 times in a row in this game. It is the easiest run read I have ever seen. It allows the backside d end to come crashing down as a chaser, both middle linebackers to scrape to the point of attack. And if they are playing safeties close that guy comes flying in. Got it is bad…… I remember commenting at one point about this stupid play during the season. I think I said just running the ball straight forward would be more successful. So I wonder if maybe the run game will be better without Clayton around designing stupid plays.
    One thought worries me. Chiaverini outscored last years team but I bet they ran a whole bunch more plays…..

  2. This offense could be pretty good.
    Nice coaching staff on the O side.
    A lack of a real qb coach which besides the Ol has led the buffs to 5 and 7 seasons. (Okay Okay the coaching staff had a big hand in those 5 and 7 seasons, I’ll give ya that. In fact a lot of that)
    And please note the cupboard is getting pretty full of good stuff on the offensive side But not at the qb position. Due to the lack of a real qb coach and the performance of the staff in general. (Okay Okay the players -and lack their of) had something to do with it.

    I like their bowl chances. ALOT!!!


    Note: Course I always like it a lot at this time of year.
    Note: Actually not always. Rutabaga man held it down for several years (and that DA OC)

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